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Blogs We Love!
So many people–breast cancer survivors and those currently undergoing treatment–bravely blog about their experiences. Some tell inspiring tales of making their way to the other side of treatment, happy in remission and now able to share their accounts.
Others offer their stories as they discover them. In real time, they recount the treatment, the anger, the relief, and the little ways their loved ones helped them. They are all heroes; they all evince strength and a fighting spirit.
Jacki, who writes my Breast Cancer blog, highlights Jackie, who does not allow her cancer control her. Instead, Erica writes,
my breast cancer looks like a 30-year-old wife and mother who could not have been more rocked than when I was diagnosed. It looks like a momma who now appreciates every single day with my kids and husband more than ever before. It looks like the desire to run marathons, and see that desire fulfilled with pride. My breast cancer looks like a restoring of my faith. And it looks like a strength I never knew I had.
She shares stories of her sons, her exams, and she guides her reader through her treatment even as her diagnosis and treatment confound and enliven her.
Jill, of Dancing with Cancer: Living with Mets, A New Normal, has been fighting breast cancer since 1999–four bouts with breast cancer and still fighting strong! She dances through her day, despite her dogged fatigue:
Today, however, I woke up feeling alert and refreshed after a good night’s sleep (despite the dog barking at 5 AM to be let outside to chase a critter). I had a morning meeting over late breakfast at The Greek, more commonly known as The Continental (reviewed here in today’s Seattle Times). After munching on coffee, a lamb patty, scrambled egg and Greek fries, I was ready to face some errands. I LOVE those Greek fries, especially the extra-crispy ones, heavy on the salt and oregano! I came home around 1 PM and needed to lie down but not sleep, so I just closed my eyes and cuddled with Bobka the dogka.
She writes passionately and dwells in the details of every day that most of us take for granted.
Ann, a self-professed “breast cancer asskicker,” blogs at Breast Cancer? But Doctor…I hate pink! She shares the little ways in which her body reacts to treatment; she answers the questions so many ask. She shares the humiliating and the poignant and she will keep you smiling.
Her latest post offers reassurance and honesty for women who may not be able to see the end of their treatment:
For those of you in the midst of it, who wonder if they will ever be the same, the answer is yes. I would say I am 98% of normal. I have tamoxifen pains (can’t wear my beloved heels often due to aching hips), and I have shoulder (post-surgery) problems. But, the things that chemo did to me: drained my energy, made me pale and tired, killed off my blood cells, made my hands and feet tingle, made me bald – those are gone. My energy is restored and the same as it ever was. My hair is lush again, if a different color.
Ann offers a glimpse of hope to raise up and keep others going.
These three blogs represent only a small fraction of the blogs authored by people touched by breast cancer. What blogs do you read to inspire you and keep you positive?
As April Fools’ Day is tomorrow (you’re absolutely welcome for the reminder!), I thought it appropriate to expose the truth regarding a few breast cancer fictions in today’s blog post.
I hope you continue to learn about breast cancer, and avoid getting fooled by false rumors!
FACT: Although it is true that the risk of breast cancer increases as a woman gets older, the disease can strike all women, regardless of age. This is due to the fact that many breast cancers are caused by specific, genetic mutations, BCRA and BCRA2. The presence of these gene defects can be found or develop in any woman, young or old.
FACT: Just like age, breast cancer does not discriminate: about 70-80% of breast cancers develop in women with absolutely no family history at all. A family history of breast cancer – especially of a close family member such as a mother, sister, daughter, and even father – increases the chances of developing breast cancer.
FACT: Despite the “reasonable” basis of this conviction, there is absolutely no evidence nor correlation to uphold this rumor. Mary Weiss, President and Founder of breastcancer.org, argues that sweat comes out of the armpits, not downwards to the underwire. A former breast cancer surgeon, Susan Love, attributes this longstanding myth to a misunderstanding of the risk factors for breast cancer.
Feel free to share: What are some other false breast cancer “facts” that you’ve come across? One thing’s for sure: early detection and knowing your breast cancer facts are the best prevention!
Did you come to The Pug on Saturday and drink a beer to support CBCC? Thank you! I hope you enjoyed yourself. I certainly did. From what I observed, good times were had by many.
The night began slowly, with people trickling in from the street. Soon, I could barely walk the length of the bar because so many people crowded the cozy space. Everyone who came exuded energy, whether derived from tourney action or a zest for breast health is no matter. People readily bought raffle tickets and even quieted down to hear the winners announced. They offered loud cheers celebrating the lucky people whose winning tickets granted them restaurant gift certificates to the Argonaut and Biergarten Haus.
Near the beginning of the evening, I joined a conversation that progressed seamlessly from nights at the bar, to the anniversary of Obama’s healthcare bill, to the importance of breast health. This was a typical happy hour in DC.
During this chat, one woman effused that she could not believe how few people schedule breast screenings — how few possess a basic understanding of breast health. She’s correct to feel frustrated and upset. Who would not take such simple measures to stay healthy and to live a longer life?
Before you agree with her, answer this question: How many of you perform the proper checks you know to promote your health? After this woman finished, I told her that I had my yearly exam a few days prior. My midwife asked if I perform self-breast exams. Sigh. “I don’t,” I whispered. My midwife assured me and told me not to fret too much, but to begin the checks. Then I shared. “I volunteer for a breast health organization.” The midwife-in-training observing my exam erupted into loud belly laughs at this absurdity.
The woman I spoke to did not laugh at my story, but she did smile. She nodded and added, “Several men know more about my breasts than I do.” I have a Master’s degree and she spends her days studying for a graduate degree. My mom had breast cancer six years ago as she began menopause and now I have yearly mammograms. The woman at the bar wants to work in health services. We are educated. We know what we should do. Yet we still do not perform basic exercises to understand our bodies better, to take care of them better. Humbled, I pulled out my planner the next day and I scheduled my
first self-breast exam for April 22, 2011.
I have a date with myself. Do you?
When I was 14, my mother confessed to me that she had been experiencing a very painful, very tender lump on her left breast for quite some time now. I was mad at her for keeping the secret to herself for so long, and vehemently urged her to go see a doctor right away. After a few days, she finally conceded. I even stubbornly sat next to her until she made the call to set up the appointment.
I remember rushing home from school on the day she visited her doctor – waiting for her, preparing myself for the worst, just in case. A huge wave of relief washed over me when she told me what her physician had said: it was an unsually large breast cyst, common in pre-menopausal women in their 30s and 40s, but ultimately benign. Removing it would simply require draining the water, like a balloon.
We hugged. We cheered. We hugged again. I cried.
Some say that my mother was very lucky – and she is. But, more importantly, she did something that too many minority women tend not to do when confronted with even the smallest concern for their health: they tell themselves “oh, it might be nothing”, and delay, or avoid altogether, taking that first step towards seeing a doctor. This can be attributed to many different reasons – lack of awareness, lack of financial means, lack of emotional support, or maybe just a simple lack of courage. It could also be attributed to cultural taboos about discussing personal health issues.
Whatever their reasons are for avoiding the doctor’s office, minority women NEED to know the sobering facts of breast cancer. While Caucasian women have the highest breast cancer incidence rates, the mortality death rate for African-Americans are 34% higher than any other races. Hispanic/Latina women are third place in breast cancer death rates. Speaking to specific ethnicities alone, breast cancer is the leading cause of death among Filipino women, and Native Hawaiians have the highest death rate from breast cancer compared to any other group in the U.S. (Office of Minority Health Resource Center, U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services.)
The Capital Breast Care Center serves these very needs. In fact, the majority of their patients are uninsured, low-income minority women, who may face many barriers to obtaining adequate breast cancer screenings and continuing breast health education. Not only does the Center provide mammograms, regardless of insurance status, the CBCC staff also provides health workshops, emotional support, bilingual and transportation services, and continuing breast health care post-diagnosis.
So in honor of Women’s History Month, do something good for your mother, sister, daughter, friend, or even stranger. Don’t let them be another statistic. Urge them to take care of their health today, and Bring Someone You Love to the CBCC.
Need a reason to celebrate tonight? Not to worry. It is the 100th Anniversary of International Women’s Day. Never heard of it? Well, today is basically a day to celebrate being a woman. If you’re not a woman, don’t feel left out; celebrate the women in your life.
While it feels like we have a day to honor everything and anything under the sun, we suggest taking today seriously. Womanhood comes with its joys and hardships. Use today as an opportunity to give thanks for the blessings and rejoice in overcoming the challenges of being a woman.
At the Capital Breast Care Center, we see firsthand women’s unbreakable spirits. We know the pain and adversity breast cancer causes. For those with limited resources, the disease can be even more daunting.
But we also experience the compassion and strength of women coming together as a helping hand and source of comfort and knowledge. Over and over again, we are amazed by the ability of women to empower each other and those around them.
So at dinner tonight, raise a glass to the women in your life – past, present, and future. Tip your hat to the men who support them. Recognize women across the globe who share similar, and often different, challenges than American women. Then toast to yourself for the remarkable woman you’ve become.
It’s International Women’s Day – celebrate. We deserve it.
I started volunteering with the Capital Breast Care Center in July of 2010 – I was looking for a job at the time and came across an ad from CBCC looking for social media volunteers. Given my interest in all things web-related, the post piqued my interest and I applied right away. When I applied, I was sitting on the porch of a house at the Jersey Shore with my mother. I checked with her before I wrote, “As the daughter of a two-time breast cancer survivor, I truly know and value how important breast cancer screenings and early detection are. The work of the Capital Breast Care Center is very important to me and I would love to help further the visibility of your work for women in DC.” I told her I was mentioning her. She laughed, and said, “I’m so glad you’re able to use me to your advantage.”
And that’s exactly what it is. It’s been 15 years and I’m still able to use her to my advantage – in every way one might be advantaged by the presence of a mom they know loves them. Early detection saved her and I am forever grateful. Recently, my family has encountered breast cancer again. This time, my cousin has a close friend whose wife Deb decided to have a mammogram after she started volunteering for breast cancer awareness in her community, as I am doing now. As a result of that mammogram, Deb learned that she has stage 2 breast cancer.
Deb is 39, about the same age my mom was when she was first diagnosed. She has a husband and five kids, ages 2 through 17. They are a normal family in a normal small town in New Jersey. In many ways, though, Deb is not unlike the women CBCC strives to serve – she is a mother who lives paycheck to paycheck to help support her family. Now that she is aware of her diagnosis and receiving treatment, her family is struggling with the financial impact of the illness. The entire situation illuminates exactly why CBCC’s groundbreaking model of early detection and patient navigation and support is essential for the women who are diagnosed with breast cancer at the center. Breast cancer can be a devastating disease – emotionally, financially, AND physically. Too often, I think we tend to forget about the parts that aren’t medical.
Right now, I’m certainly thinking about the non-medical impacts of breast cancer. It’s easy for me to rewind the clock back 15 years in my mind to a time when I was scared about my mom. I can relate to Deb’s kids, and I can relate to the kids of every woman who is diagnosed. It’s an uncertain time. It’s also why I’m still working with CBCC – I am thrilled to be working with an organization that recognizes that there is all sorts of care necessary beyond determining which cancer cells are living where, and, in turn, how to kill the cancer cells.
To learn more about Deb, please visit her web site, helpdebbootcancer.org.
Last week’s spring teaser has YPAC excited for the fantastic events slated for the coming months. Get your calendars out and mark down these dates!
Step into the Ring with Breast Cancer Fundraiser—26 March 2011, 7–9 pm
Join YPAC and drink a beer to support CBCC. We will gather at The Pug in the hot Atlas District. Tony, the bar’s owner, will donate ten percent of the happy hour’s profits to CBCC to provide mammograms, health education, and to support the underserved population of the DC metro area. What’s more, YPAC has been busy searching out prizes to raffle off to anyone willing to take a chance and willing to buy a ticket (we hope that is all of you!). So far, we have a $25 gift certificate to the Argonaut and a $60 gift certificate to Biergarten Haus. We are continuing to work with local businesses, so watch this blog and Facebook for updates on prizes.
A Thousand Words Photo Exhibit – 19 April 2011, 6:30pm – 9:30pm at the Atlas Performing Arts Center Hosted by Pink Jams! & Shoot For Change
Purchase Tickets: http://athousandwords.eventbrite.com/
One hundred members of our community have courageously come together to express how breast cancer has touched their lives. Uplifting and funny, or serious and grief-stricken, A Thousand Words captures the real people and the real emotions that come with breast cancer. We promise that this will be an exhibit you will never forget.
Washington, DC tops the nation in breast cancer related deaths, 65% higher than the national average. It does not discriminate, and it isn’t a sexist disease. It can affect anyone, anywhere, at any time in our lives. We sincerely hope you will join us as we celebrate and honor the faces and stories surrounding breast cancer – in A Thousand Words.
All the money from ticket sales go directly to Capital Breast Care Center. CBCC provides breast cancer screening services to medically underserved women in the DC area. Please make sure you bring your ticket/email confirmation to the event for entry.
Purchase Tickets: http://athousandwords.eventbrite.com/
Prelude to the Royal Wedding—28 April 2011, 7—10:00 pm
Find your most chic dress and your trendiest hat and make your way to the Peacock Café in Georgetown. Show off your finery while raising money for Capital Breast Care Center (CBCC). CBCC provides breast cancer screening services to medically underserved women in the DC area. We will sip on British-inspired drinks and ready ourselves for the biggest social event of the decade for the Brits. Walter Grio, of Shoot for Change, will be on site to snap photos of you looking fabulous! Tickets are $40 and can be purchased here! Watch Facebook for updates.
Madewell Shopping Event—4 May 2011, 6—8:00 pm
That is not all! We are busy finalizing a shopping evening in early May at Madewell in Georgetown that will feature 25 percent% off for YPAC, CBCC, their supporters and others who want to support a local DC nonprofit while uplifiting your spring wardrobe. If we make this event a success, Madewell will host a fundraising event to benefit CBCC later in the year.
Looking ahead to October, YPAC has been blueprinting a breast health event with Tigerlily, Be Bright Pink, and Previve. We hope to reach out to young girls in Ward 8, educating them on how to keep our bodies, our souls, and our breasts healthy. We cannot begin too early to take care of the girls.
These events inspire a giddiness that I cannot describe—they have so much potential to raise awareness and to support CBCC. However, YPAC cannot do this alone. We need your help, even if you can only offer an hour of your time, you can only make a few phone calls, you can only post to Twitter for a few hours. Please contact us to volunteer today at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please feel free to indicate the event on which you prefer to work.
Today was business as usual at Capital Breast Care Center. Upon the entrance of each patient, a breeze from the lingering winter on Capitol Hill wafted through, reminding all of us that we don’t have much longer until Spring arrives. Winter turning to Spring: this is a notion that could be applied to the many experiences our patients have before coming to CBCC.
Women may pass through our doors battling a variety of barriers to care, such as not having the time or transportation to seek a mammogram, fear about breast cancer screening, or lack of health insurance due to a recent job loss. Like winter, these situations feel harsh, unrelenting, and sometimes hopeless.
However, once these women enter CBCC, the pink walls surround them with warmth. They are listened to by our compassionate staff and treated with respect. For nearly an hour the focus is on their health, not just breast-health, but diet, nutrition, family history, and health lifestyles. For nearly an hour, the frost of winter can begin to thaw. The knowledge and compassion the Center imparts are like buds of flowers, always with the potential to grow and replicate. For each woman who has a mammogram, and sees that it isn’t scary or painful, she can share this information with her friends, family, and other loved ones.
Winter turning to Spring.
Help continue this cycle and support Capital Breast Care Center today.